To take on the discontentment against land acquisition process, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh has cleared a draft bill for public comments. The minister’s land acquisition and rehabilitation bill will be up on the ministry website just a fortnight into his term at Krish Bhawan. The Bill proposes a compensation of more than six times the circle rate of land, acquired for industrial and real estate projects. This is in line with the recomendations of the National Advisory Council but given the time constraint is unlikely to be cleared by Parliament in the next monsoon session.
The Bill sticks to the NAC script in its other major recommendations which is mandatory consent for atleast 80% of the affected people as a pre-requisite for commencing land acquisition. Since land is a concurrent subject, the Act will however have only an advisory status unless accepted by the state legislatures. “It would be the state government who would decide on whether the private sector or the state government, who would initiate land acquisition drive,” an official said. The new bill also proposes compliance with all existing laws on tribal welfare. The bill has also suggested inflation linked annuity to those who had given up their land.
The bill also suggests that if the acquired land belongs to a tribal person, then an additional compensation would have to be worked out. Besides the Bill would also have separate norms for land acquired around urban and rural areas. After a final meeting with National Advisory Council (NAC) members and other key ministry officials on Wednesday, Jairam gave the final touch to the bill which for the first time combines both land acquisition and rehabilitation under one law.
This would be the second attempt by the UPA government to formulate a national policy on land acquisition after series of violence protests against forceful occupation of land for industries were reported from Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Maharashtra and other states in the last few years. Earlier the National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2007 were passed by the Lok Sabha in February 2009 and had been tabled in the Rajya Sabha subsequently. However, both bills lapsed with the dissolution of the 14th Lok Sabha.